Tag Archives: raspberry pi press

New book: Get Started with MicroPython on Raspberry Pi Pico

Post Syndicated from Phil King original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/new-book-get-started-with-micropython-on-raspberry-pi-pico/

So, you’ve got a brand new Raspberry Pi Pico and want to know how to get started with this tiny but powerful microcontroller? We’ve got just the book for you.

Get Started with Raspberry Pi Pico book

Beginner-friendly

In Get Started with MicroPython on Raspberry Pi Pico, you’ll learn how to use the beginner-friendly language MicroPython to write programs and connect hardware to make your Raspberry Pi Pico interact with the world around it. Using these skills, you can create your own electro-mechanical projects, whether for fun or to make your life easier.

Inside the pages of the Raspberry Pi Pico book

After taking you on a guided tour of Pico, the books shows you how to get it up and running with a step-by-step illustrated guide to soldering pin headers to the board and installing the MicroPython firmware via a computer.

Programming basics

Inside the pages of the Raspberry Pi Pico book 02

Next, we take you through the basics of programming in MicroPython, a Python-based programming language developed specifically for microcontrollers such as Pico. From there, we explore the wonderful world of physical computing and connect a variety of electronic components to Pico using a breadboard. Controlling LEDs and reading input from push buttons, you’ll start by creating a pedestrian crossing simulation, before moving on to projects such as a reaction game, burglar alarm, temperature gauge, and data logger.

Inside the pages of the Raspberry Pi Pico book

Raspberry Pi Pico also supports the I2C and SPI protocols for communicating with devices, which we explore by connecting it up to an LCD display. You can even use MicroPython to take advantage of one of Pico’s most powerful features, Programmable I/O (PIO), which we explore by controlling NeoPixel LED strips.

Get your copy today!

You can buy Get Started with MicroPython on Raspberry Pi Pico now from the Raspberry Pi Press online store. If you don’t need the lovely new book, with its new-book smell, in your hands in real life, you can download a PDF version for free (or a small voluntary contribution).

STOP PRESS: we’ve spotted an error in the first print run of the book, affecting the code examples in Chapters 4 to 7. We’re sorry! Fortunately it’s easy for readers to correct in their own code; see here for everything you need to know. We’ve already corrected this in the PDF version.

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New book: Help! My computer is broken

Post Syndicated from Ashley Whittaker original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/new-book-help-my-computer-is-broken/

Surprise! We thought we’d squeeze in another shiny new thing for you before the year is out. And it’ll make a cracking Christmas present.

Front cover of the book featuring two cartoon people struggling over a broken computer

Who is it for?

Our brand new book Help! My Computer is Broken (How do I fix it?) takes the most common computer problems and tells you how to fix them.

It’s “the intolerant person’s guide to keeping your computer computing.” If that sounds like you, we recommend you hop straight over to the Raspberry Pi Press online store and pick up a copy for just £10.

What’s it about?

It also makes a good, only mildly passive-aggressive, gift. If the above text messages ring a bell, and you’re fed up with being the in-house tech support for your family, then Help! My computer is broken (How do I fix it?) can assist. It shows readers how to fix common computer problems, without having to wade through technical jargon or pester said tech support person.

Who wrote it?

Logo for the big tech question website

We had the brilliant Barry Collins, who has been a technology journalist for more than 20 years, write it for you. He’s written for most of the UK’s leading tech publications, and he is a former editor of PC Pro as well as former assistant editor of the Sunday Times‘ technology section.

He’s now co-editor of The Big Tech Question, a site designed to answer people’s tech queries – in a similar vein to this book. Barry also makes regular appearances as a tech pundit on TV and radio.

Where can I buy it?

Alternative view of the books front cover

You can buy Help! My computer is broken (How do I fix it?) now from the Raspberry Pi Press online store, or at the Raspberry Pi store in Cambridge, UK.

Our lovely friends at Wireframe magazine have also made a free PDF version available.

Extra Christmas cheer for you

A selection of Raspberry Pi books on a table surrounded by Christmas decorations

While you’re shopping at the Raspberry Pi Press online store, make sure you check out our Black Friday deal, which we’ve decided to keep rolling until Christmas Eve.

If you buy just one book from the Black Friday range (priced £7 – £10), you get two more completely FREE!

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Gifts that last all year round

Post Syndicated from Ashley Whittaker original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/gifts-that-last-all-year-round/

What if you could give the joy of opening a Raspberry Pi–themed gift every single month for a whole year? But what if the thought of wrapping 12 individual things fills you with Scrooge-level dread?

Snap up a magazine subscription for one of your nearest and/or dearest and we’ll take care of the packaging and delivery while you sit back and reap all the credit!

You could end up with a few extra gifts depending on what you sign up for so, read on and take your pick.

The MagPi magazine

Magpi magazines fanned out with free gift to the side of them

The official Raspberry Pi magazine comes with a free Raspberry Pi Zero W kit worth £20 when you sign up for a 12-month subscription. You can use our tiniest computer in tonnes of projects, meaning Raspberry Pi fans can never have enough. That’s a top gift-giving bonus for you right there.

Every issue of The MagPi is packed with computing and electronics tutorials, how-to guides, and the latest news and reviews. They also hit their 100th issue this month so, if someone on your list has been thinking about getting a subscription, now is a great time.

Check out subscription deals on the official Raspberry Pi Press store.

HackSpace magazine

Hackspace magazines fanned out with adafruit gift on top

HackSpace magazine is the one to choose for fixers and tinkerers of all abilities. If you’re looking for a gift for someone who is always taking things apart and hacking everyday objects, HackSpace magazine will provide a year of inspiration for them.

12-month subscriptions come with a free Adafruit Circuit Playground Express, which has been specially developed to teach programming novices from scratch and is worth £25.

Check out subscription deals on the official Raspberry Pi Press store.

Custom PC

Some Custom PC magazines fanned out with the free giveaway mouse on top of them

Custom PC is the magazine for people who are passionate about PC technology and hardware. And they’ve just launched a pretty cool new giveaway with every 12-month subscription: a free Chillblast Aero RGB Gaming mouse worth £40. Look, it lights up, it’s cool.

Check out subscription offers on the official Raspberry Pi Press store.

Wireframe magazine

Wireframe magazine lifts the lid on video games. In every issue, you’ll find out how games are made, who makes them, and how you can code them to play for yourself using detailed guides.

The latest deal gets you three issues for just £10, plus your choice of one of our official books as a gift. By the way, that ‘three for £10 plus a free book’ is available across ALL our magazines. Did I not tell you that before? My bad. It’s good though, right?

Check out more subscriptions deals on the official Raspberry Pi Press store.

Three books for the price of one

A selection of Raspberry Pi books on a table surrounded by Christmas decorations

And as an extra Christmas gift to you all, we’ve decided to keep our Black Friday deal rolling until Christmas Eve, so if you buy just one teeny tiny book from the Raspberry Pi Press store, you get two more completely FREE!

Better still, all of the books in the deal only cost £7 or £10 to start with, so makes for a good chunky batch of presents at a brilliantly affordable price.

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New book: The Official Raspberry Pi Handbook 2021

Post Syndicated from Ashley Whittaker original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/new-book-the-official-raspberry-pi-handbook-2021/

Hey everyone, come and see, come and see! Here’s a great new bookazine from the makers of the official Raspberry Pi magazine. We do love the folks at The MagPi. Clever, they are.

If, like us, you’re over 2020 already, dive into the pages of The Official Raspberry Pi Handbook 2021, and pretend it never happened. That will totally work.

The front cover of the Raspberry Pi Handbook featuring a Raspberry Pi 4 on a dark background

To help you get the most of out of your Raspberry Pi computer, this official Handbook features 200 pages of essential information, inspiring projects, practical tutorials, and definitive reviews.

Beginner-friendly

A blue double page spread on Starter Electronics

If you’re an absolute beginner, you can learn from the Handbook how to set up your Raspberry Pi and start using it. Then you can move on to the step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to code and make with your Raspberry Pi.

Shiny new stuff

A double page spread about Raspberry Pi 400

You’ll also (re)discover the new Raspberry Pi 400 and High Quality Camera, both released this year. And you’ll find out about the top kits and accessories for your projects.

Be inspired

A double page spread about Reachy robot. Robot is white with big black eyes and a stripy torso

And finally, we’ve also picked out some incredible Raspberry Pi projects made by people in the community to inspire you to get making and coding.

Where can I get the Handbook?

A double page spread on problem solving with Raspberry Pi

You can buy The Official Raspberry Pi Handbook 2021 now from the Raspberry Pi Press online store, or at the Raspberry Pi store in Cambridge, UK.

Personally, we prefer new book smell and the crackle of physical pages but, if you’re less picky and don’t mind on-screen reading, the lovely folks at The MagPi have a PDF version you can download for free.

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New book: Create Graphical User Interfaces with Python

Post Syndicated from Ashley Whittaker original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/create-graphical-user-interfaces-with-python/

Laura Sach and Martin O’Hanlon, who are both Learning Managers at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, have written a brand-new book to help you to get more out of your Python projects.

Cover of the book Create Graphical User Interfaces with Python

In Create Graphical User Interfaces with Python, Laura and Martin show you how to add buttons, boxes, pictures, colours, and more to your Python programs using the guizero library, which is easy to use and accessible for all, no matter your Python skills.

This new 156-page book is suitable for everyone — from beginners to experienced Python programmers — who wants to explore graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

Meet the authors

Screenshot of a Digital Making at Home live stream session
That’s Martin in the blue T-shirt with our Digital Making at Home live stream hosts Matt and Christina

You might have met Martin recently on one of our weekly Digital Making at Home live streams for young people, were he was a guest for an ‘ooey-GUI’ code-along session. He talked about his background and what it’s like creating projects and learning resources on a day-to-day basis.

Laura is also pretty cool! Here she is showing you how to solder your Raspberry Pi header pins:

Hi Laura!

Martin and Laura are also tonnes of fun on Twitter. You can find Martin as @martinohanlon, and Laura goes by @codeboom.

10 fun projects

In Create Graphical User Interfaces with Python, you’ll find ten fun Python projects to create with guizero, including a painting program, an emoji match game, and a stop-motion animation creator.

A double-page from the book Create Graphical User Interfaces with Python
A peek inside Laura’s and Martin’s new book

You will also learn:

  • How to create fun Python games and programs
  • How to code your own graphical user interfaces using windows, text boxes, buttons, images, and more
  • What event-based programming is
  • What good (and bad) user interface design is
A double-page from the book Create Graphical User Interfaces with Python
Ain’t it pretty?

Where can I get it?

You can buy Create Graphical User Interfaces with Python now from the Raspberry Pi Press online store, or the Raspberry Pi store in Cambridge, UK.

And if you don’t need the lovely new book, with its new-book smell, in your hands in real life, you can download a PDF version for free, courtesy of The MagPi magazine.

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Latest Raspberry Pi OS update – May 2020

Post Syndicated from Simon Long original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/latest-raspberry-pi-os-update-may-2020/

Along with yesterday’s launch of the new 8GB Raspberry Pi 4, we launched a beta 64-bit ARM version of Debian with the Raspberry Pi Desktop, so you could use all those extra gigabytes. We also updated the 32-bit version of Raspberry Pi OS (the new name for Raspbian), so here’s a quick run-through of what has changed.

NEW Raspberry Pi OS update (May 2020)

An update to the Raspberry Pi Desktop for all our operating system images is also out today, and we’ll have more on that in tomorrow’s blog post. For now, fi…

Bookshelf

As many of you know, we have our own publishing company, Raspberry Pi Press, who publish a variety of magazines each month, including The MagPi, HackSpace magazine, and Wireframe. They also publish a wide range of other books and magazines, which are released either to purchase as a physical product (from their website) or as free PDF downloads.

To make all this content more visible and easy to access, we’ve added a new Bookshelf application – you’ll find it in the Help section of the main menu.

Bookshelf shows the entire current catalogue of free magazines – The MagPi, HackSpace magazine and Wireframe, all with a complete set of back issues – and also all the free books from Raspberry Pi Press. When you run the application, it automatically updates the catalogue and shows any new titles which have been released since you last ran it with a little “new” flash in the corner of the cover.

To read any title, just double-click on it – if it is already on your Raspberry Pi, it will open in Chromium (which, it turns out, is quite a good PDF viewer); if it isn’t, it will download and then open automatically when the download completes. You can see at a glance which titles are downloaded and which are not by the “cloud” icon on the cover of any file which has not been downloaded.

All the PDF files you download are saved in the “Bookshelf” directory in your home directory, so you can also access the files directly from there.

There’s a lot of excellent content produced by Raspberry Pi Press – we hope this makes it easier to find and read.

Edit – some people have reported that Bookshelf incorrectly gives a “disk full” error when running on a system in which the language is not English; a fix for that is being uploaded to apt at the moment, so updating from apt (“sudo apt update” followed by “sudo apt upgrade”) should get the fixed version.

Magnifier

As mentioned in my last blog post (here), one of the areas we are currently trying to improve is accessibility to the Desktop for people with visual impairments. We’ve already added the Orca screen reader (which has had a few bug fixes since the last release which should make it work more reliably in this image), and the second recommendation we had from AbilityNet was to add a screen magnifier.

This proved to be harder than it should have been! I tried a lot of the existing screen magnifier programs that were available for Debian desktops, but none of them really worked that well; I couldn’t find one that worked the way the magnifiers in the likes of MacOS and Ubuntu did, so I ended up writing one (almost) from scratch.

To install it, launch Recommended Applications in the new image and select Magnifier under Universal Access. Once it has installed, reboot.

You’ll see a magnifying glass icon at the right-hand end of the taskbar – to enable the magnifier, click this icon, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Alt-M. (To turn the magnifier off, just click the icon again or use the same keyboard shortcut.)

Right-clicking the magnifier icon brings up the magnifier options. You can choose a circular or rectangular window of whatever size you want, and choose by how much you want to zoom the image. The magnifier window can either follow the mouse pointer, or be a static window on the screen. (To move the static window, just drag it with the mouse.)

Also, in some applications, you can have the magnifier automatically follow the text cursor, or the button focus. Unfortunately, this depends on the application supporting the required accessibility toolkit, which not all applications do, but it works reasonably well in most included applications. One notable exception is Chromium, which is adding accessibility toolkit support in a future release; for now, if you want a web browser which supports the accessibility features, we recommend Firefox, which can be installed by entering the following into a terminal window:

sudo apt install firefox-esr

(Please note that we do not recommend using Firefox on Raspberry Pi OS unless you need accessibility features, as, unlike Chromium, it is not able to use the Raspberry Pi’s hardware to accelerate video playback.)

I don’t have a visual impairment, but I find the magnifier pretty useful in general for looking at the finer details of icons and the like, so I recommend installing it and having a go yourself.

User research

We already know a lot of the things that people are using Raspberry Pi for, but we’ve recently been wondering if we’re missing anything… So we’re now including a short optional questionnaire to ask you, the users, for feedback on what you are doing with your Raspberry Pi in order to make sure we are providing the right support for what people are actually doing.

This questionnaire will automatically be shown the first time you launch the Chromium browser on a new image. There are only four questions, so it won’t take long to complete, and the results are sent to a Google Form which collates the results.

You’ll notice at the bottom of the questionnaire there is a field which is automatically filled in with a long string of letters and numbers. This is a serial number which is generated from the hardware in your particular Raspberry Pi which means we can filter out multiple responses from the same device (if you install a new image at some point in future, for example). It does not allow us to identify anything about you or your Raspberry Pi, but if you are concerned, you can delete the string before submitting the form.

As above, this questionnaire is entirely optional – if you don’t want to fill it in, just close Chromium and re-open it and you won’t see it again – but it would be very helpful for future product development if we can get this information, so we’d really appreciate it if as many people as possible would fill it in.

Other changes

There is also the usual set of bug fixes and small tweaks included in the image, full details of which can be found in the release notes on the download page.

One particular change which it is worth pointing out is that we have made a small change to audio. Raspberry Pi OS uses what is known as ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) to control audio devices. Up until now, both the internal audio outputs on Raspberry Pi – the HDMI socket and the headphone jack – have been treated as a single ALSA device, with a Raspberry Pi-specific command used to choose which is active. Going forward, we are treating each output as a separate ALSA device; this makes managing audio from the two HDMI sockets on Raspberry Pi 4 easier and should be more compatible with third-party software. What this means is that after installing the updated image, you may need to use the audio output selector (right-click the volume icon on the taskbar) to re-select your audio output. (There is a known issue with Sonic Pi, which will only use the HDMI output however the selector is set – we’re looking at getting this fixed in a future release.)

Some people have asked how they can switch the audio output from the command line without using the desktop. To do this, you will need to create a file called .asoundrc in your home directory; ALSA looks for this file to determine which audio device it should use by default. If the file does not exist, ALSA uses “card 0” – which is HDMI – as the output device. If you want to set the headphone jack as the default output, create the .asoundrc file with the following contents:

defaults.pcm.card 1
defaults.ctl.card 1

This tells ALSA that “card 1” – the headphone jack – is the default device. To switch back to the HDMI output, either change the ‘1’s in the file to ‘0’s, or just delete the file.

How do I get it?

The new image is available for download from the usual place: our Downloads page.

To update an existing image, use the usual terminal command:

sudo apt update
sudo apt full-upgrade

To just install the bookshelf app:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install rp-bookshelf

To just install the magnifier, either find it under Universal Access in Recommended Software, or:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install mage

You’ll need to add the magnifier plugin to the taskbar after installing the program itself. Once you’ve installed the program and rebooted, right-click the taskbar and choose Add/Remove Panel Items; click Add, and select the Magnifier option.

We hope you like the changes — as ever, all feedback is welcome, so please leave a comment below!

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The Raspberry Pi Press store is looking mighty fine

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/the-raspberry-pi-press-store-is-looking-mighty-fine/

Eagle-eyed Raspberry Pi Press fans might have noticed some changes over the past few months to the look and feel of our website. Today we’re pleased to unveil a new look for the Raspberry Pi Press website and its online store.

Did you know?

Raspberry Pi Press is the publishing imprint of Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd, which is part of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a UK-based charity that does loads of cool stuff with computers and computer education.

Did you also know?

Raspberry Pi Press publishes five monthly magazines: The MagPi, HackSpace Magazine, Wireframe, Custom PC, and Digital SLR Photography. It also produces a plethora of project books and gorgeous hardback beauties, such as retro gamers’ delight Code the Classics, as well as Hello World, the computing and digital making magazine for educators! Phew!

And did you also, also know?

The Raspberry Pi Press online store ships around the globe, with copies of our publications making their way to nearly every single continent on planet earth. Antarctica, we’re looking at you, kid.

It’s upgrade time!

With all this exciting work going on, it seemed only fair that Raspberry Pi Press should get itself a brand new look. We hope you’ll enjoy skimming the sparkling shelves of our online newsagents and bookshop.

Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a little tsundoku

You can pick up all the latest issues of your favourite magazines or treat yourself to a book or three, and you can also subscribe to all our publications with ease. We’ve even added a few new payment options to boot.

New delivery options

We’ve made a few changes to our shipping options, with additional choices for some regions to make sure that you can easily track your purchases and receive timely and reliable deliveries, even if you’re a long way from the Raspberry Pi Press printshop.

Customers in the UK, the EU, North America, Australia, and New Zealand won’t see any changes to delivery options. We continue to work to make sure we’re offering the best price and service we can for everyone, no matter where you are.

Have a look and see what you think!

So hop on over to the new and improved Raspberry Pi Press website to see the changes for yourself. And if you have any feedback, feel free to drop Oli and the team an email at [email protected].

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New book: The Official Raspberry Pi Camera Guide

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/new-book-the-official-raspberry-pi-camera-guide/

To coincide with yesterday’s launch of the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera, Raspberry Pi Press has created a new Official Camera Guide to help you get started and inspire your future projects.

The Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera

Connecting a High Quality Camera turns your Raspberry Pi into a powerful digital camera. This 132-page book tells you everything you need to know to set up the camera, attach a lens, and start capturing high-resolution photos and video footage.

Make those photos snazzy

The book tells you everything you need to know in order to use the camera by issuing commands in a terminal window or via SSH. It also demonstrates how to control the camera with Python using the excellent picamera library.

You’ll discover the many image modes and effects available – our favourite is ‘posterise’.

Build some amazing camera-based projects

Once you’ve got the basics down, you can start using your camera for a variety of exciting Raspberry Pi projects showcased across the book’s 17 packed chapters. Want to make a camera trap to monitor the wildlife in your garden? Build a smart door with a video doorbell? Try out high-speed and time-lapse photography? Or even find out which car is parked in your driveway using automatic number-plate recognition? The book has all this covered, and a whole lot more.

Don’t have a High Quality Camera yet? No problem. All the commands in the book are exactly the same for the standard Raspberry Pi Camera Module, so you can also use this model with the help of our Official Camera Guide.

Snap it up!

The Official Raspberry Pi Camera Guide is available now from the Raspberry Pi Press online store for £10. And, as always, we have also released the book as a free PDF. But the physical book feels so good to hold and looks so handsome on your bookshelf, we don’t think you’ll regret getting your hands on the print edition.

Whichever format you choose, have fun shooting amazing photos and videos with the new High Quality Camera. And do share what you capture with us on social media using #ShotOnRaspberryPi.

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Wireframe’s deep(ish) dive into the glorious double jump

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/wireframes-deepish-dive-into-the-glorious-double-jump/

Yoshi aside, we can’t think of anyone who isn’t a fan of the double jump. In their latest video, the Wireframe magazine team take a deep(ish) dive into one of video gaming’s most iconic moves.

What is the Double Jump | Wireframe Deep Dive

The humble jump got a kick in 1984 with the introduction of the double jump, a physicist’s worst nightmare and one of video gaming’s most iconic moves. Subsc…

Also, HDR!

Are you looking to upgrade your computer monitor? Last week, Custom PC magazine, a publication of Raspberry Pi Press, released their latest video discussing HDR monitors. Are you ready to upgrade, and more importantly, should you?

What is an HDR monitor? High dynamic range explained | Custom PC magazine

High dynamic range (HDR) monitors are all the rage, but what exactly is HDR and which monitors produce the best image quality? Check out our full HDR guide: …

We produce videos for all our Raspberry Pi Press publications, including magazines such as The MagPi and HackSpace magazine, as well as our book releases, such as Code the Classics and Build Your Own First-Person Shooter in Unity.

Subscribe to the Raspberry Pi Press YouTube channel today and click on the bell button to ensure you’re notified of all new releases. And, for our complete publication library, visit the Raspberry Pi Press online store.

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The History of Pong | Code the Classics

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/the-history-of-pong-code-the-classics/

One topic explored in Code the Classics from Raspberry Pi Press is the origin story and success of Pong, one of the most prominent games in early video game history.

‘The success of Pong led to the creation of Pong home consoles (and numerous unofficial clones) that could be connected to a television. Versions have also appeared on many home computers.’

Ask anyone to describe a game of table tennis and they’ll invariably tell you the same thing: the sport involves a table split into quarters, a net dividing the two halves, a couple of paddles, and a nice round ping-pong ball to bat back and forth between two players. Take a look at the 1972 video game Pong, however, and you’ll notice some differences. The table, for instance, is simply split in half and it’s viewed side-on, the paddles look like simple lines, and the ball is square. Yet no one – not even now – would have much trouble equating the two.

Back in the early 1970s, this was literally as good as it got. The smattering of low-powered arcade machines of the time were incapable of realistic-looking graphics, so developers had to be creative, hoping imaginative gamers would fill the gaps and buy into whatever they were trying to achieve. It helped enormously that there was a huge appetite for the new, emerging video game industry at that time. Nolan Bushnell was certainly hungry for more – and had he turned his nose up at Spacewar!, a space combat game created by Steve Russell in 1962, then Pong would never even have come about.

“The most important game I played was Spacewar! on a PDP-1 when I was in college,” he says, of the two-player space shooter that was popular among computer scientists and required a $120,000 machine to run. Although the visuals were nothing to write home about, the game was one of the first graphical video games ever made. It pitted two spaceships against each other and its popularity spread, in part, because the makers decided the code could be distributed freely to anyone who wanted it. “It was a great game, fun, challenging, but only playable on a very expensive computer late at night and the wee hours of the morning,” Nolan says. “In my opinion, it was a very important step.”

Nolan was so taken by Spacewar! that he made a version of the game with a colleague, Ted Dabney. Released in 1971, Computer Space allowed gamers to control a rocket in a battle against flying saucers, with the aim being to get more hits than the enemy in a set period of time. To make it attractive to players, it was placed in a series of colourful, space-age, moulded arcade cabinets. Nolan and Ted sold 1500 of them; even though they made just $500 from the venture, it was enough to spur them into continuing. They came up with the idea for Pong and created a company called Atari.

One of their best moves was employing engineer Al Alcorn, who had worked with Nolan at the American electronics company Ampex. Al was asked to create a table tennis game based on a similar title that had been released on the Magnavox Odyssey console, on the pretence that the game would be released by General Electric. In truth, Nolan simply wanted to work out Al’s potential, but he was blown away by what his employee came up with. Addictive and instantly recognisable, Atari realised Pong could be a major hit. The game’s familiarity with players meant it could be picked up and played by just about anyone.

Even so, Nolan had a hard time convincing others. Manufacturers turned the company down, so he visited the manager of a bar called Andy Capp’s in Sunnyvale, California and asked them to take Pong for a week. The manager soon had to call Nolan to tell him the machine had broken: it had become stuffed full of quarters from gamers who loved the game. By 1973, production of the cabinet was in overdrive and 8000 were sold. It led to the creation of a Pong home console which sold more than 150,000 machines. People queued to get their hands on one and Atari was on its way to become a legendary games company.

For Nolan, it was justification for his perseverance and belief. Suddenly, the man who had become interested in electronics at school, where he would spend time creating devices and connecting bulbs and batteries, was being talked of as a key player in the fledgling video game industry. But what did Nolan, Ted, Al, and the rest of the Atari team do to make the game so special? “We made it a good, solid, fun game to play,” says Nolan. “And we made it simple, easy, and quickly understood. Keeping things simple is more difficult to do than building something complex. You can’t dress up bad gameplay with good graphics.”

Making Pong

On the face of it, Pong didn’t look like much. Each side had a paddle that could be moved directly up and down using the controller, and the ball would be hit from one side to the other. The score was kept at the top of the screen and the idea was to force the opposing player to miss. It meant the game program needed to determine how the ball was hit and where the ball would go from that point. And that’s the crux of Pong’s success: the game encouraged people to keep playing and learning in the hope of attaining the skills to become a master.

When creating Pong, then, the designers had a few things in mind. One of the most important parts of the game was the movement of the paddles. This involved a simple, vertical rectangle that went up and down. One of the benefits Atari had when it created Pong was that it controlled not just the software but the hardware too. By building the cabinet, it was able to determine how those paddles should be moved. “The most important thing if you want to get the gameplay right is to use a knob to move the paddle,” advises Nolan. “No one has done a good Pong using touchscreens or a joystick.”

Look at a Pong cabinet close up – there are plenty of YouTube videos which show the game in action on the original machine – and you will see what Nolan means. You’ll notice that players turned a knob anticlockwise to move the paddle down, and clockwise to move it up. Far from being confusing, it felt intuitive.

Movement of the ball

With the paddles moving, Atari’s developers were able to look at the movement of the ball. At its most basic, if the ball continued to make contact with the paddles, it would constantly move back and forth. If it did not make contact, then it would continue moving in the direction it had embarked upon and leave the screen. At this stage, a new ball was introduced in the centre of the screen and the advantage was given to the player who had just chalked up a point. If you watch footage of the original Pong, you will see that the new ball was aimed at the player who had just let the ball go past. There was a chance he or she would miss again.

To avoid defeat, players had to be quite nifty on the controls and stay alert. Watching the ball go back and forth at great speed could be quite mesmerising as it left a blurred trail across the cathode ray tube display. There was no need to waste computing power by animating the ball because the main attention was focused on what would happen when it collided with the paddle. It had to behave as you’d expect. “The game did not exist without collisions of the ball to the paddle,” says Nolan.

Al realised that the ball needed to behave differently depending on where it hit the paddle. When playing a real game of tennis, if the ball hits the centre of the racket, it will behave differently from a ball that hits the edge. Certainly, the ball is not going to be travelling in a simple, straight path back and forth as you hit it; it is always likely to go off at an angle. This, though, is the trickiest part of making Pong “The ball should bounce up from an upper collision with more obtuse angles as the edge of the paddle is approached,” Nolan says. “This balances the risk of missing with the fact that an obtuse angle is harder to return.” This is what Pong is all about: making sure you hit the ball with the paddle, but in a manner that makes it difficult for the opposing player to return it. “A player wants the ball to be just out of reach for the opponent or be hard for him or her to predict.”

Read on…

This post is part of a much longer deep dive into the history of Pong in Code the Classics, our 224-page hardback book that not only tells the stories of some of the seminal video games of the 1970s and 1980s, but also shows you how to use Python and Pygame Zero to create your own games inspired by them, following examples programmed by Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton.

In conjunction with today’s blog post, we’re offering £1 off Code the Classics when you order your copy between now and midnight Wednesday 26 Feb 2020 from the Raspberry Pi Press online store. Simply follow this link or enter the discount code PONG at checkout to get your copy for only £11, with free shipping in the UK.

Code the Classics is also available as a free download, although the physical book is rather delightful, so we really do recommend purchasing it.

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USA magazine subscriptions offer: 48% off standard prices

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/usa-magazine-subscriptions-offer-48-off-standard-prices/

Today we’re launching a time-limited special offer on subscriptions to HackSpace magazine and The MagPi magazine for readers in the USA, saving you a whopping 48% compared to standard overseas subscriptions. We want to help as many people as possible get their hands on our fantastic publications.

Starting today, you can subscribe to these magazines for the discounted price of $60 a year – just $5 per issue. Not only will you receive twelve issues direct to your door, but you’ll also receive a free gift and save up to 35% compared with newsstand prices!

You’ll need to be quick – this discounted offer is only running until 31 March 2020.

HackSpace magazine

HackSpace magazine is packed with projects for fixers and tinkerers of all abilities. We’ll teach you new techniques and give you refreshers on familiar ones, from 3D printing, laser cutting, and woodworking to electronics and the Internet of Things. HackSpace magazine will inspire you to dream bigger and build better.

Your $60 subscription will get you twelve issues per year and a free Adafruit Circuit Playground Express, worth $25. Click here to subscribe today!

The MagPi magazine

The MagPi is the official Raspberry Pi magazine. Written by and for the community, it’s packed with Raspberry Pi-themed projects, computing and electronics tutorials, how-to guides, and the latest news and reviews.

Your $60 subscription will get you twelve issues per year and a free Raspberry Pi Zero W with accessories. Click here to subscribe today!

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Build your own first-person shooter in Unity

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/build-your-own-first-person-shooter-in-unity/

Raspberry Pi Press is back with a new publication: this time, it’s Wireframe’s time to shine, with Build Your Own First-Person Shooter in Unity.

BUILD YOUR OWN first-person shooter game in Unity || Wireframe magazine

Ever fancied creating your own first-person shooter game? Now you can with Wireframe’s brand new, 140-page bookazine, which positively heaves with tutorials and advice from expert video game developers!

Could you build a video game?

We’ve all had that moment of asking ourselves, “I wonder if I could do this?” when playing a video game. Whether as a child racing friends in Mario Kart, or in more recent years with vast open-world masterpieces, if you like games, you’ve probably thought about designing and building your own.

So, why don’t you?

With the latest publication from Wireframe and Raspberry Pi Press, you can learn how to use Unity, free software available to download online, to create your very own first-person shooter. You could build something reminiscent of DOOM, Wolfenstein, and all the other games you tried to convince your parents you were old enough to play when you really weren’t (who knew blurry, pixelated blood could be so terrifying?).

Build Your Own First-Person Shooter in Unity

Build Your Own First-Person Shooter in Unity leads you step-by-step through the process of making the game Zombie Panic – a frenetic battle for survival inside a castle heaving with the undead.

You’ll learn how to set up and use all the free software you’ll need, make enemies that follow and attack the player, create and texture 3D character models, and design levels with locked doors and keys.

You’ll also get tips and advice from experts, allowing you to progress your game making beyond the tutorials in the book.

Get your copy now!

Build Your Own First-Person Shooter in Unity is available now from the Raspberry Pi Press online store with free worldwide shipping, from the Raspberry Pi Store in Cambridge, and as a free download from the Wireframe website.

Wait, a free download?

Yup, you read correctly. Build Your Own First-Person Shooter in Unity can be downloaded for free as a PDF from the Wireframe website. We release free PDF versions of our books and magazines on the day they’re published; it means as many people as possible can get their hands on high-quality, up-to-date information about computing, programming and making.

However, when you buy our publications, you help us produce more great content, and you support the work of the Raspberry Pi Foundation to bring computing and digital making to people all over the world. We offer a variety of subscription options, including some terrific free gifts. And we make sure our publications are printed to feel good in your hands and look good on your bookshelf.

So, buy Build Your Own First-Person Shooter in Unity if you can – thank you, you’re amazing! And if not, grab the free PDF. Whichever you choose, we hope you make an awesome game. Don’t forget to share it with us on our social media channels.

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New book: Retro Gaming with Raspberry Pi

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/new-book-retro-gaming-with-raspberry-pi/

Raspberry Pi Press is delighted to announce the release of the latest addition to your bookshelf: Retro Gaming with Raspberry Pi!

Retro Gaming with Raspberry Pi

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspberry Pi from one of our Approved Resellers: http://rpf.io/ytproducts Find out more about the #RaspberryPi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytcci CoderDojo http://rpf.io/ytcd Check out our free online training courses: http://rpf.io/ytfl Find your local Raspberry Jam event: http://rpf.io/ytjam Work through our free online projects: http://rpf.io/ytprojects Do you have a question about your Raspberry Pi?

Retro Gaming with Raspberry Pi

This 164-page book shows you how to set up a Raspberry Pi to play classic games; and how to build your own portable console, a full-size arcade cabinet, and a pinball machine with clear step-by-step guides.

Learn how to program your own games

You’ll learn how to program your own games using Python and Pygame Zero, allowing you to recreate some of your favourite retro games, as well as learning how lines of code can produce gorgeous graphics and hours of nostalgia-driven fun.



If that’s not enough, you’ll also find reviews of some of the best retro gamer kit, such as cases and controllers; tips on setting up emulators; and showcases of some gorgeous retro-fit Raspberry Pi systems.



Get it now

If you’d like to buy Retro Gaming with Raspberry Pi as a physical book (and we do recommend you do – it’ll make a fantastic stocking-filler), you can purchase it now from the Raspberry Pi Press website with free international shipping, or from the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge.

As with all Raspberry Pi Press publications, Retro Gaming with Raspberry Pi is available now as a free PDF, ready for you to download from The MagPi website.

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The NEW Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide: updated for Raspberry Pi 4

Post Syndicated from Phil King original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/the-new-official-raspberry-pi-beginners-guide-updated-for-raspberry-pi-4/

To coincide with the launch of Raspberry Pi 4, Raspberry Pi Press has created a new edition of The Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide book — as if this week wasn’t exciting enough! Weighing in at 252 pages, the book is even bigger than before, and it’s fully updated for Raspberry Pi 4 and the latest version of the Raspbian operating system, Buster.A picture of the front cover of the Raspberry Pi Beginner's Guide version two

The Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide

We’ve roped in Gareth Halfacree, full-time technology journalist and technical author, and the wonderful Sam Alder, illustrator of our incredible cartoons and animations, to put together the only guide you’ll ever need to get started with Raspberry Pi.



From setting up your Raspberry Pi on day one to taking your first steps into writing coding, digital making, and computing, The Official Raspberry Beginner’s Guide – 2nd Edition is great for users from age 7 to 107! It’s available now online from the Raspberry Pi Press store, with free international delivery, or from the real-life Raspberry Pi Store in Cambridge, UK.

As always, we have also released the guide as a free PDF, and you’ll soon be seeing physical copies on the shelves of Waterstones, Foyles, and other good bookshops.

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Raspberry Pi Press: what’s on our newsstand?

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-press-newsstand/

Raspberry Pi Press, the publishing branch of Raspberry Pi Trading, produces a great many magazines and books every month. And in keeping with our mission to make computing and digital making as accessible as possible to everyone across the globe, we make the vast majority of our publications available as free PDFs from the day we release new print versions.

We recently welcomed Custom PC to the Press family and we’ve just published the new-look Custom PC 190. So this is a perfect time to showcase the full catalogue of Raspberry Pi Press publications, to help you get the most out of what we have on offer.

The MagPi magazine

The MagPi was originally created by a group of Raspberry Pi enthusiasts from the Raspberry Pi forum who wanted to make a magazine that the whole community could enjoy. Packed full of Pi-based projects and tutorials, and Pi-themed news and reviews, The MagPi now sits proudly upon the shelves of Raspberry Pi Press as the official Raspberry Pi magazine.

The MagPi magazine issue 81

Visit The MagPi magazine online, and be sure to follow them on Twitter and subscribe to their YouTube channel.

HackSpace magazine

The maker movement is growing and growing as ever more people take to sheds and makerspaces to hone their skills in woodworking, blacksmithing, crafting, and other creative techniques. HackSpace magazine brings together the incredible builds of makers across the world with how-to guides, tips and advice — and some utterly gorgeous photography.

Visit the HackSpace magazine website, and follow their Twitter account and Instagram account.

Wireframe magazine

“Lifting the lid on video games”, Wireframe is a gaming magazine with a difference. Released bi-weekly, Wireframe reveals to readers the inner workings of the video game industry. Have you ever wanted to create your own video game? Wireframe also walks you through how you can do it, in their ‘The Toolbox’ section, which features tutorials from some of the best devs in the business.

Follow Wireframe magazine on Twitter, and learn more on their website.

Hello World magazine

Hello World is our free magazine for educators who teach computing and digital making, and we produce it in association with Computing at Schools and the BCS Academy of Computing. Full of lesson plans and features from teachers in the field, Hello World is a unique resource for everyone looking to bring computing into the classroom, and for anyone interested in computing and digital making education.

Hello World issue 8

Educators in the UK can subscribe to have Hello World delivered for free to their door; if you’re based somewhere else, you can download the magazine for free from the day of publication, or purchase it via the Raspberry Pi Press online store. Follow Hello World on Twitter and visit the website for more.

Custom PC magazine

New to Raspberry Pi Press, Custom PC is the UK’s best-selling magazine for PC hardware, overclocking, gaming, and modding. With monthly in-depth reviews, special features, and step-by-step guides, Custom PC is the go-to resource for turning your computer up to 11.

Visit the shiny new Custom PC website, and be sure to follow them on Twitter.

Books

Magazines aren’t our only jam: Raspberry Pi Press also publishes a wide variety of books, from introductions to topics like the C programming language and Minecraft on your Pi, to our brand-new Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide and the Code Club Book of Scratch.

An Introduction to C and GUI programming by Simon Long


We also bridge the gap between our publications with one-off book/magazine hybrids, such as HackSpace magazine’s Book of Making and Wearable Tech Projects, and The MagPi’s Raspberry Pi Projects Book series.



Getting your copies

If you’d like to support our educational mission at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, you can subscribe to our magazines, and you can purchase copies of all our publications via the Raspberry Pi Press website, from many high street newsagents, or from the Raspberry Pi Store in Cambridge. And most of our publications are available as free PDFs so you can get your hands on our magazines and books instantly.

Whichever of our publications you choose to read, and however you choose to read them, we’d love to hear what you think of our Raspberry Pi Press offerings, and we hope you enjoy them all.

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